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If Harry Potter led marketing operations, where would his team sit?

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If Harry Potter led marketing operations, where would his team sit?

You’ve just graduated from MOpswarts and been declared a marketing ops (MOps) wizard. As you step off the train armed with a wand, sweet robes and cache of spells, you’re ready to help your company thrive with martech magic.

You’re especially jazzed about the AlohoMOpsa spell you found hidden away in the bowels of MOpswarts, which allows you to remake the org structure of any company and move MOps closest to the department where it can best flourish. Should it sit with marketing? Wait, maybe IT? Perhaps sales? 

Thinking of your company, you break out your MOpsrauder’s Map, and state, “I solemnly swear I’m trying to help customers,” and the options magically appear with their pros and cons.


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Move MOps closer to marketing

It is marketing operations after all, right? Maybe. Success depends on the CMO. If they see MOps as a trusted advisor and have a solid understanding of martech tools and governance, prepare for raging success. If the opposite is true, consider another department destination.

Goodies:  The closer MOps is to the heart of the marketing organization, the higher the MOps marketing IQ and empathy, focusing innovation and energy on what matters most. This enables an agile MOps organization that can power a CMO’s vision. With closer proximity to MOps, marketers are also better sensitized to martech, governance and process. The more marketers know, the more likely they will design programs that work with (and not against) MOps’ strengths.

Gotchas:  Like a Ferrari with the wrong driver, a rockstar MOps team with an unreasonable CMO can end in a fiery, Fast and Furious-like explosion. When CMOs thwart governance, ignore process and prioritization and disregard tech constraints, MOps is better situated in an adjoining department to create a protective buffer. Another gotcha to watch out for: if MOps is situated too far from IT, it will be harder to get larger systems integrations or data projects funded and prioritized.

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When this works well: When CMOs truly partner with and understand MOps orgs, magic happens. CMOs must also be tight with CIOs, framing the prioritization discussions regarding revenue and ROI to get a seat at the table. If the CIO solves 500k problems, a CMO’s revenue or cost-saving opportunities must exceed that bar to gain traction. Consider funding marketing dedicated resources on the CIO’s team to benefit from IT’s overall tech bench and get marketing prioritized.

Move MOps closer to IT

Being closer to the “big iron” of infrastructure in a company can unlock sophisticated capabilities; it can also result in slower programs or efforts that stray from marketing priorities.

Goodies:  MOps teams have better access to IT budgets, prioritization processes and technical firepower, giving larger systems integrations and data projects a higher chance of success. Compared with marketing, IT orgs tend toward more structure and process, making governance easier to enable. The org buffer that being in IT creates is also useful for MOps when CMOs are unreasonable (you know who you are), making sensible pushback possible.

Gotchas:  Removed from the marketing team, MOps can lose touch with marketing pain points and stray from the CMO’s vision, resulting in strategic misfires. The sense of urgency can also be lost as the CIO’s shadow shields MOps from the heat of the CMO’s sun – or completely blots it out with other company priorities.   

When this works well: When MOps is closer to IT but funded by marketing, you get the best of two worlds: first, IT doesn’t stray from marketing priorities; second, marketing gets the benefit of IT’s technical depth needed for more sophisticated programs. Without budget or another form of authority, marketing is often too low on the IT list of priorities.

Move MOps closer to sales

The closer MOps is to customers, the tighter marketing programs are interwoven with revenue objectives. Go too far, however, and longer-term marketing priorities like brand suffer.

Goodies:  Sitting closer to customers will focus MOps like a laser on enabling revenue-producing programs. As MOps participates in sales discussions, marketing gets crisper and more focused to ensure a healthy, high-quality pipeline, as there is little support for anything that doesn’t immediately add value. The heat is also on for better, more consistent sales enablement content to keep sales leaders closing deals rather than creating decks.

Gotchas:  Sales’ intense focus on short-term revenue can come at the expense of longer-term growth. Sales orgs may not see or wish to invest in brand or other more esoteric forms of marketing that don’t generate immediate benefits for bearers of quota. While demand gen campaigns provide more tangible fuel for the sales engine, cultivating brand, advocacy or social media presence clears the road for a longer, more profitable journey.    

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When this works well: Exec leadership must buy into the power of marketing to engage with customers at scale. In-person customer conversations are superior to emails or webinars but far less economical to execute. By casting a wider net, marketing can more economically identify valuable prospects and transition revenue-ready leads to sales. 

Which model is the best? No model is perfect, so it depends on your needs. Desire to power a CMOs vision to deliver world-class programs? Marketing could be your best bet. Need sophisticated programs that require deep technical expertise? Proximity to IT will help. Want to ensure sales and marketing work hand in glove? Closer to sales is a good bet. 

What if you want the benefits of all three? As RevOps matures, incredible possibilities exist in the harmonized world of sales, marketing and service. But you may have to head back to MOpswarts and find a potion or spell to crack that one. 

You close up the MOpsrauder’s Map and whisper, “AlohoMOpsa,” while flicking your wand. With revenue targets and customer delight on your mind, the company’s departments swirl before you, and you make your choice.


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.


About The Author

Spence Darrington is a Managing Director and marketing scale expert at Bridge Partners. Prior to Bridge, Spence worked for Microsoft, Expedia Group, and Ford Motor Company helping transform their marketing models to achieve scale. While at Microsoft he pioneered B2B marketing shared services for delivery, building an organization of 500+ execution experts based in hubs around the world. Spence holds a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations from Brigham Young University and a Masters in Business Administration from Purdue University. Spence lives in the Seattle, WA area.

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MARKETING

the second key persona for modern marketing operations leaders

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Marketing operations talent is suffering burnout and turnover

This 4-part series presents a framework that helps rationalize the roles and responsibilities modern marketing operations leaders are taking on. This installment summarizes the framework briefly, and dives into how MOps leaders are now “orchestrators.” 

In case you missed it, part 1 is here.

Inspiration for this framework

Two years ago, marketing technology pioneer and chiefmartec.com editor Scott Brinker outlined the four key responsibilities of marketing technologists, summarized here.  

That work espoused the view that you could be both a marketer AND a technology leader. They are not mutually exclusive! It was my inspiration for this framework, explaining how today’s MOps leaders are instrumental for marketing and business success.

X-Axis:  A range of skills from a focus on technology to creativity and arts

Y-Axis: A range of decision-making skills, ranging from emotional to rational approaches

The resulting grid captures four MOps archetypes or “personas.” MOps leaders exhibit characteristics across all parts of this framework and will operate in multiple quadrants, similar to Brinker’s frameworks.

Modernizers – Are most likely to be the “original” technologists, constantly modernizing their martech stack.

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Orchestrators – Are the closest to Brinker’s Maestros and the focus of this article. He described this archetype in 2020 as the “Operations Orchestrator — MAESTROS who design and manage the workflows, rules, reports, and tech stacks that run the marketing department.

Psychologists – Are now increasingly responsible for “reading customers’ minds,” i.e. interpreting customers’ interest through intent data and digital engagement.

Scientists – Are constantly testing and evaluating. Experimentation is their specialty.

Orchestrators: Leaders of the band

Now that you’re familiar with the framework, let’s dig deeper into the Orchestrators!

I’ll start with a personal story. My exposure to orchestration started with 8-straight years of practice in violin and trumpet during my formative years. Each week was literally a blur of private lessons, group lessons, orchestra and/or band practice. I probably spent as much time with music directors as I did with my family.  

It was painfully obvious to those conductors when we hadn’t prepared or practiced. Moreso, we would get – literally – an “earful” from the conductor when we were not listening to the other instrument sections. If we were not coordinating our efforts and timing, the outcome was awful for anyone listening.

Source: Unsplash

This orchestration metaphor is powerful because there are multiple levels for MOps leaders:

  • As a project management team within marketing, and often as a conductor across external agency partners.
  • As a cross-function business partner and primary contact for IT, compliance, and legal, in addition to the traditional MOps role of achieving marketing/sales alignment

Notably, all marketers have to be project managers for their own tasks/deadlines. They must be aligned with overall campaign and program timelines. 

However, as organizations scale they are more likely to have dedicated project management teams to handle coordination across the specialist teams within marketing. The orchestration responsibility may include timeline, scope, and capacity trade-offs even after campaign briefs have received approval. 


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The orchestration responsibility multiplies when agency execution teams are delivering on individual tactics and media buys. Last year, Optimizely described these evolving orchestration duties as a “transformative shift and approach towards how marketing synchronizes their teams, content, channels, workflows, and data!”

I believe the shift is even more impactful, with orchestration benefits being felt beyond marketing. The highest value “program orchestration” responsibilities occur when MOps leaders are representing marketing’s interests in enterprise-wide programs with other functions within the organization, including product, compliance, and IT. Examples of orchestration duties with these other key functions can include:

  • Product teams – Coordinating campaigns with major product feature/functionality launches, and managing brand standards.
  • Legal/Compliance – Overseeing compliance with Can-Spam, GDPR, and CCPA, and customer preference and data privacy initiatives that may be initiated by a marketing touch-point. 
  • IT/Procurement – Technology stack management, vendor evaluations and negotiations, platform integrations and data management.

All of this departmental and cross-departmental coordination requires skill sets that can be analogized as the difference between a chamber orchestra (marketing) and a full symphony. It’s the highest level of conducting across the enterprise. 

MOps leaders are holding individuals and teams to target timelines while managing the scope of a particular campaign and business initiative. They do this while also overseeing targeting of customer and prospect segments.

In order to accomplish this complex segmentation and coordination, MOps leaders are now responsible for cross-functional data – embodied by the modern martech stack imperative: integration. Integration across systems has been the #1 issue for marketers since the modern marketing tech stack started exploding in the early 2010’s, but software and solutions providers finally listened. A tipping point was reached in 2020. Marketers reported that we were finally working within an integrated, multi-system environment, according to a CDP Institute member survey analyzed here.  

Continuing with the orchestration analogy, the conductor is the integration “synchronizer,” deciding if/when the data flows across the stack. The sheet music is the data model standard showing how to map common attributes. 

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However, just because we now have this more integrated environment does not mean our work is done. The instruments do not play themselves (yet!) and they require configuration and deliberate training to play effectively — both individually and in groups. 

Training was one of the top responsibilities for marketing ops leadership, ranking it in the top 5 of MOPS tasks by percentage of work, according to the 2022 MarTech Salary and Career Survey, published jointly by MarTech and chiefmartec.com (free, ungated download here). conducted by chiefmartec.

In the 2020 version of that same study, training was highlighted as one of the top two responsibilities for many of the primary marketing technologists personas, and 91% of operations orchestrators reported that training and supporting technologies were among their top priorities.

MOps leaders are never done

Finally, under the category of “MOps leaders are never done”, the last several years have also forced a whole new category of orchestration duties – a combination of conducting, training, and martech growth: marketing work management.

The largest growth (67%) over the last several years was in the category of “work management”, according to the 2022 edition of the Martech Landscape. Established entrants such as Adobe expanded with the acquisition of Workfront, while newer players like Trello and Monday gained traction.  

Although this was already a prevailing trend BEFORE the pandemic, the hybrid/remote work environment brought on by the last 2+ years forced these project management and agile-planning tools to the forefront.  The marketing work management category grew to over 1000+ tools, according to the State of Martech 2022

Source: State of MarTech 2022 – chiefmartec.com and Martech Tribe

MOps leaders are Maestros

In summary, modern MOps leaders are indeed Maestros. They are skilled orchestrators, conducting a symphony across multiple levels. They lead:

  • Omni-channel campaigns within marketing and across business functions
  • Integration across an ever-growing, integrated martech stack
  • Training and deployment as one of their primary responsibilities 

Editor’s note: In Part 3 of this 4-part series, Milt will expand on MOps leaders’ growing role as Psychologists. For background on this framework, see Part 1 of this series here


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.


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About The Author

Milt is currently Director of Customer Experience at MSI Data, an industry-leading cloud software company that focuses on the value and productivity that customers can drive from adopting MSI’s service management solutions.

With nearly 30 years of leadership experience, Milt has focused on aligning service, marketing, sales, and IT processes around the customer journey. Milt started his career with GE, and led cross-functional initiatives in field service, software deployment, marketing, and digital transformation.
Following his time at GE, Milt led marketing operations at Connecture and HSA Bank, and he has always enjoyed being labeled one of the early digital marketing technologists. He has a BS in Electrical Engineering from UW Madison, and an MBA from Kellogg School of Management.

In addition to his corporate leadership roles, Milt has been focused on contributing back to the marketing and regional community where he lives. He serves on multiple boards and is also an adjunct instructor for UW-Madison’s Digital Marketing Bootcamp. He also supports strategic clients through his advisory group, Mission MarTech LLC.

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